Is A Franchise The Right Fit For You?


Are you the entrepreneurial type looking for a chance to really make an impact in the world of business? If you want to get up and running quickly, or you feel that you’d like the extra back office support if it’s your first time starting up a business, then a franchising opportunity could be just what you’ve been waiting for.

Access to start up capital is also becoming more available, meaning that now really could be the perfect time to get your first business off the ground. Make sure that you have everything you need to prosper, and it could be a great chance to shine and learn about business.

Do Your Homework

In order for any business to be successful, there has to be passion, drive and commitment from the owner, and this starts with ensuring that you fully connect with the idea of the business. It has to be an area that inspires you or the hard work will always feel like more of a sacrifice. That’s not to say that you have to be an expert, but the willingness to learn about the area you operate in is an absolute must.

There’s no point starting a business selling cycling gear and fixing bikes if you aren’t a cyclist yourself so think carefully about what would be a natural fit for you. On top of this, layer in what makes business sense for the area in which you operate. There has to be a local demand for your products or services, or your business will never prosper. If you live in a place where mosquitoes aren’t really a problem, running a Mosquito Authority franchise is not likely to get off the ground, whereas in other areas it will thrive.

Investigate the opportunity thoroughly before committing any of your resources. There are websites like Franchise Gator where you can enter your particular needs and be matched to business opportunities that are right for your circumstances. Some people will shine in a technology environment, others like providing face to face customer service. Some have strengths in marketing a business, others in setting up something highly technical.

Look at the practical side of the costs involved and how much head office support you can expect as well. Remember to factor in the fees, property lease, equipment, training expenses and business insurance cover you will need to get up and running – some franchises are more costly than others, and it all depends on how deep your pockets are.

Gear Up For Discovery Day

Once you’re pretty sure which franchise is for you, and you’ve registered your application, you’ll usually be invited to a Discovery Day. This is your chance to learn in-depth about the business that you’ll be taking on. Expect to learn about the vision and values of the corporation, the policies which apply to running one of it’s businesses and to meet the team that you’ll have day-to-day dealings with, such as regional support staff. Remember that it’s also where the franchisor will be meeting you face to face for the first time and looking at you as a potential business partner, so go prepared to impress. There may be specific things they are looking for – it could be prior business experience, special trade certifications, a certain amount of investment capital or even a particular qualification. You also have to show that you are enthusiastic about their products, willing to be guided by their policies but are also a self-starter with initiative and drive. It’s a tall order, so make sure you prepare by knowing your stuff and your elevator pitch well in advance. Your day will be full up – one-on-one meetings, group exercises, presentations and visits to other successful franchises are all usual process for a Discovery Day. Pull together a list of questions you have to make the most of the time. See it as you and the franchiser trying each other on for size – both sides have to be sufficiently impressed in order to make it work.

Ask The Right Questions

Use your Discovery Day as a chance to really get to know the organisation that you’re signing up to be a part of. You may be thinking of yourself as a standalone business, but no franchise is an island. You’ll be part of a larger network and you need to have sharp negotiation skills to make it work at times. The more you know ahead of making the commitment the better. Find how long they have been operating and their average success rate, especially in your area. How long do franchisees stick around? Ask for key success factors, common challenges that other franchise owners have found, any tips on doing things differently, and how long it was before other locations showed a profit.

Make sure you also understand exactly what support package you’re signing up for. Is there a mentoring scheme? Centralized support with marketing or sales coaching? This can vary widely from business to business, so think about how much you feel comfortable doing on your own and how much hand holding you want at the beginning.

There are some business basics you must learn from the beginning, otherwise you are highly likely to run into trouble down the road. These include: market research, accounting, working with financial documents, sourcing and hiring new recruits, training employees on the job, working with suppliers, and implementing a health and safety policy as well as data protection. You can do an awful lot with online training, including webinars and independent research, and if your franchise offers training make sure you snap it up. This can be the difference between success and failure in those first few months.

With a little careful research and some hard work, you can make a success of your franchise, whether you choose to stick with it or to use it as a launchpad for further ventures.